Historic Arms: M1941 Johnson semi-automatic rifle and LMG
By Chris Eger
Demonstrating the M1941 Johnson semi automatic rifle’s unique nondetachable rotary magazine. Chambered in .30-06, the gun could be fed with old Springfield 1903 stripper clips or topped off with single rounds.
Loved by many, fired by few
Believe it or not, the US Army actually entered World War II behind the eight-ball when if came to military weaponry. Today most military historians agree that US tanks and aircraft were lacking overall when compared to those of Nazi Germany in 1941. America’s saving grace however, was a better standard infantry rifle — the M1 Garand — which firmly elbowed out the bolt action Mausers, Carcanos, and Arisaka of the Axis.
Despite this, one inventor stateside, Melvin Johnson, would have had it differently and his rifle, the M1941 Johnson remains one of the great American could-have-beens of World War II.
The US Army’s Garand decision
John C Garand, the inventor of the M1 semi-automatic rifle that now and forever carries his name, began work on this weapon with an integral en-bloc eight-shot clip as early as 1924 at the US Army’s Springfield Arsenal. By November 1935, it was cleared for procurement and was set to replace the Army’s stocks of WWI and earlier issue M1903 and M1917 rifles.